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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  April 3, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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04/03/15 04/03/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> today, the united states with our allies and partners, has reached historic understanding with iran, which it fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. amy: in what president obama described as a historic agreement, iran has agreed to a curb its nuclear program and
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accept new international inspections in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions. a final deal must now be reached by june. we will speak with a former iranian nuclear negotiator. then the governors of indiana and arkansas sign revisions to two so-called religious freedom measures which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against lgbt people. the laws were rewritten after a national outcry and moves to boycott the states. we will speak to the legendary "star trek" actor and gay rights activist george takei. >> the lgbt buying power, as well as our allies, as well as -- you know, i maintain the majority of americans are good, decent people. and they will not tolerate this kind of abuse of the legal process. amy: and we will get the latest from kenya, where 147 university people, mainly university students were killed when , militants stormed their campus on thursday. all that and more, coming up.
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welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. after eight days of talks in switzerland, iran and world powers have reached a framework agreement on curbing iran's nuclear program for at least a decade. in return, the united states and europe plan to lift economic sanctions on iran. as part of the deal, iran must reduce the number of its centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranium into a bomb by more than two-thirds. it also has to redesign a power plant so it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium and be subject to regular international nuclear inspections. the parties must now reach a final agreement by june 30. president obama said the deal is a good one. >> i've always insisted i will do what is necessary to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and i will. but i also know a diplomatic solution is the best way to get this done. amy: israel has condemned the
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deal while republican lawmakers are demanding the rights to review it. we'll have more on the deal after headlines. in kenya, officials say 147 people, mainly university students, were killed when al shabab militants stormed a university in garissa, making it the worst attack on kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the u.s. embassy. gunmen reportedly went through the university dorms, separating muslims from christians, and killing the christians. the siege lasted about 15 hours before security forces killed four militants. in yemen, houthi rebels have reportedly retreated from the former palace of president abd-rabbu mansour hadi in his former stronghold of aden. the rebels seized the palace thursday, but were forced to retreat following saudi-led airstrikes. the fierce fighting in aden comes as the british red cross warns of a catastrophic humanitarian situation with more than 10 million people in need of food.
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according to the united nations, violence in yemen has killed over 500 people in the past two weeks, 90 of them children. the united nations has acknowledged its peacekeepers used unauthorized and excessive force when they opened fire on protesters in northern mali in january. a u.n. probe found up to four u.n. troops shot and killed three civilians and injured four others in the town of gao. the peacekeepers will be returned to rwanda, where they are from. the governors of indiana and arkansas have signed revisions to two so-called religious freedom measures which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against lgbt people. indiana's enactment of the law provoked a national outcry, with celebrities, top corporations and city and state governments condemning or boycotting the state. flanked by business leaders, indiana governor mike pence signed a revision specifying the law does not authorize anti-lgbt discrimination. eli lilly executive and former indianapolis mayor bart peterson hailed the change. >> for the first time ever, the
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words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" appear in the indiana statute -- or they will after this law is passed. in the context of nondiscrimination. amy: arkansas governor asa hutchinson signed a similar measure thursday after he balked at signing an unrevised version, following condemnation from walmart and the outcry in indiana, as well as a petition signed by his own son against the law. in a statement, the aclu said -- "the events in indiana over the last week represent a dramatic change in the way our country reacts to discrimination hiding under the guise of religion." in queens, new york, two women accused of plotting to build a homemade explosive device have been arrested in an fbi sting. noelle velentzas and asia siddiqui, both u.s. citizens are accused of sympathizing with
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al qaeda and the sophist -- islamic state. meanwhile, a u.s. citizen who was seen as leading al qaeda member under consideration for the u.s. kill list, has been secretly flown to new york after being detained in pakistan. muhanad mahmoud al farekh, known as abdullah al-shami, was recommended for the kill list by the pentagon before the obama administration balked at killing another u.s. citizen. german prosecutors say the co-pilot accused of deliberately crashing a germanwings plane in the french alps, killing all 150 people on board, had researched suicide and cockpit doors in the days before the crash. the german prosecutor unveiled the findings. >> according to the results, the user informed himself about medical treatment as well as
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different kinds of in the implementation of a suicide. on at least one day, he search for several minutes about the doors and or safety precautions. amy: data from a newly recovered black box appears to show the co-pilot intentionally sped up the plane's descent. after locking out the captain of the caught it. nearly 800 former guatemalan research subjects and relatives have sued johns hopkins university for its alleged role in a u.s. government program which deliberately infected hundreds of people with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases in the 1940's and 1950's. the $1 billion lawsuit filed in a maryland court accuses johns hopkins and the rockefeller foundation of helping "design, support, encourage and finance" the nonconsensual tests. at philadelphia international airport, baggage handlers, cleaners, and other workers went on strike thursday to demand higher pay and benefits. the workers, who are paid as little as $7.25 an hour, want the airport to comply with a
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living wage requirement for city-owned facilities. meanwhile, mcdonalds' workers rallied in dozens of cities, from new york to los angeles calling for an expansion of the company's plan to raise wages to at least $1 over the local minimum wage. some 90% of mcdonald's workers are excluded, since the hike does not apply to franchises. officials at duke university in north carolina say a student has left campus after admitting to hanging a noose from a tree. duke says the student will be subject to school disciplinary procedures. the noose was discovered wednesday, days after another incident where a black, female student said a group of white, male peers harassed her using the same racist chant that prompted the expulsion of fraternity members at the university of oklahoma. the new york affiliate of boy scouts of america has announced the hiring of an openly gay eagle scout to work at a scout camp, defying the national
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organization's ban on lgbt scoutmasters. pascal tessier will work at a scoop camp this summer. last year, the boy scouts lifted a ban on gay scouts, but still prohibits gay scoutmasters. in alabama, a prisoner who has spent nearly 30 years on death row is being released today. anthony ray hinton was accused of murdering two fast-food managers in 1985, but subsequent tests found bullets at the scene could not be matched to the gun he was accused of using. according to the equal justice initiative, which won his release, hinton is among the longest-serving death-row prisoners ever to be freed after presenting evidence of innocence. and imprisoned journalist and former black panther mumia abu-jamal has been transferred back to prison after he was moved to an outside hospital following a blackout from diabetic shock.
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abu-jamal's supporters said he was kept under heavy guard and isolated from visitors in the hospital. following an international outcry, relatives including his brother, keith cook, were allowed to visit. >> mumia or shackled to the bed. as a matter of fact, there were two policemen in the room and three outside the door. you could not talk about anything you did not want them to hear. when i saw him, i helped him cut the meat. he had one arm with handcuffs on it and then he had a needle in the other arm. he was smiling. it was obvious that he was weak and not his normal self, but he did have some smiles and cracked a couple of jokes. his sense of humor was there, he was just in a lot of pain. the report the following day is that he was doing worse.
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amy: mumia abu-jamal has been moved back to the prison infirmary. his supporters plan to rally at the prison today to demand he be allowed outside medical care. that is from doctors outside the prison. they say authorities may have withheld from abu-jamal details about blood test that could have indicated he was suffering from diabetes. and those are some of the headlines this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. after eight days of talks in switzerland, iran and world powers have reached a framework agreement on curbing iran's nuclear program for at least a decade. in return, the united states and europe plan to lift economic sanctions on iran. the parties must now reach a final agreement by june 30. president obama described the deal as historic. >> today, after many months of top principled diplomacy -- taft
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for the bulldogs on the sea, we have achieved a framework for that real. and it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives. this framework would cut off every pathway that iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. iran will face strict limitations on its programs and iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. so this deal is not based on trust. it is based on unprecedented verification. amy: as part of the deal, iran must reduce the number of its centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranium into a bomb by more than two-thirds. that is to about 5000 or 6000. iran also has to redesign a power plant so it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium and be subject to regular international nuclear inspections.
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the iranian foreign minister javad zarif said the deal recognizes iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program. >> the decision we took today is very important. it is for the basis of a full agreement. we cannot begin final draft agreement based on the solutions we have reached over the last few days. iran will be able to continue its peaceful nuclear program but there will be limitations placed on the level and duration of its enrichment program, and the quantity of enriched material that can be kept. juan: while u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon praised the deal for contributing to peace and stability in the region, praise the deal was not universal. israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu condemned it as "threat to israel's existence." lawmakers are demanding the right to review the deal. republican senator mark kirk said, "neville chamberlain got a
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better deal from adolf hitler," referring to the 1930's british prime minister and his policy of nazi appeasement. on thursday, president obama urged congress not to scuttle the deal. >> if congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it is the united states that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. amy: to talk more about the nuclear deal, we are joined by seyed hossein mousavian, a former nuclear negotiator for iran. he served as iran's ambassador to germany from 1990 to 1997. he joins us from princeton new jersey where he is an associate research scholar at princeton university's woodrow wilson school of public and international affairs. last year, he published the book, "iran and the united states: an insider's view on the failed past and the road to peace." welcome, ambassador. do you see this deal as historic
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and a road to peace? >> good morning. definitely, the deal is a historic achievement and definitely, this is a road to peace because the deal practically prevented a new war in the middle east, which could be much more disastrous for the u.s. and for the region compared to the war against afghanistan and the war on iraq. i believe diplomacy worked. they have achieved excellent conclusion. they should continue to reach the final conference of deal by the end of june, the first of july. and then iran and the u.s., they should negotiate on for the disputed issues through diplomacy.
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juan:, could you talk about the key aspects that have been announced of the framework, what you think are the most important? the whole issue of the sharp reduction in the number of centrifuges that iran will have an operation? and also the issue of the breakout period that has been discussed? >> for iranians, two points were important from day one. the first point was to accept to respect the rights of iran for peaceful nuclear technology, including enrichment on the nonproliferation treaty npt. this was the first key issue for iran from day one when we negotiated -- when we began nuclear negotiation in 2003. this deal covers this key
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demands of iran. iran would be entitled to have peaceful nuclear technology. the second key issue for iran was lifting the sanctions. this deal also contains, ultimately lifting all unilateral, multilateral sanctions -- nuclear-related sanctions. that is why i believe this deal is good for iran because the two key elements iran was asking already is covered in the deal. however, the deal is good for the u.s., for the war powers because for them, the red line was no nuclear bomb. although, iran does not have a nuclear bomb although there is no evidence of diversion in iranian nuclear program -- however, because of mistrust between iran and the u.s., iran
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and the west, this was a big issue for the u.s. and for the west to make sure any deal would guarantee no diversion on iranian nuclear program toward weaponization. this deal contains exactly the key element the u.s. was looking. because, first, iran has accepted the maximum level of transparency and verification ever during the history of proliferation. even transparency verification measures beyond the current nonproliferation treaty npt. second, with all the limits which you mentioned already, and president obama also in his statement mentioned, iran has accepted all confidence building measures that there would be no breakout and there would be no
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diversion toward weaponization. as long as the deal covers the maximum level of transparency, all measures on non-diversion toward weaponization, this is a good deal for the u.s. -- and i told you why the deal is good for iran. amy: i want to turn to the spokesperson for israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu. shortly after just a deal was reached, he tweeted -- "pm netanyahu to pres obama: a deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of israel." regev later appeared on cnn and lambasted the deal as "very dangerous." he suggested iran will become the next north korea. >> we see this deal as ray dangerous. we say this is moving in the wrong direction. it becomes the foundation for a final deal with iran, then we see this like a deal with north korea. i mean, if you will recall, in the 1990's, north korea signed a deal and committed themselves to nonproliferation and kept their
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nuclear program intact. and when they were ready, they proliferated they exploded a nuclear device and today, they threaten used asia. iran is much, much more dangerous than north korea. amy: your response, ambassador? he said iran is an axis dental threat to israel -- existential threat to israel and iran is try to build a nuclear bomb. >> i think there's no difference between israel and north korea because north korea has a few number of nuclear bombs. israel has about 400 nuclear bombs. therefore, they both are the same. they have nuclear bombs. there is a big difference between iran and israel. they really belong to two different wars on nonproliferation. karen is member of the nonproliferation treaty and israel has never been ready to
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accept it. there is no evidence in the iranian nuclear program. iran does not have nuclear bomb. israel has about 400 nuclear bombs. during the last 10 years, iran has given more than 7000 inspections international atomic energy agency, the iaea. it is completely unprecedented during the history of iaea, no other country in the world has given access to iaea, the international atomic energy agency, like iran during the last decade. during the last 50, 60 years has not given even one inspection to the iaea. therefore, i believe the
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international community and the world, they should judge who is wrong, who is right. iran does not have nuclear bomb. iran has accepted every level of inspection, transparency. iran has accepted to have completely open nuclear program and israel does have a nuclear bomb in the country which does have nuclear bomb is blaming iran, which does not have nuclear bomb. juan: ambassador, i would like to ask about the impact the sanctions have had on the iranian people and iranian society over so many years. and also, do you think the change in government in iran has made the west -- now with president rouhani, more willing to reach a deal? >> i believe this is a very, very important question, not because of the nuclear deal, because of the future negotiations between iran and the u.s.. the narrative in the u.s.
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congress is, the deal is done because of u.s. sanctions and pressures. but the fact is, the deal was signed yesterday is the framework is exactly like the principal and frameworks we proposed european countries in 2003 and 2005, between 2002-2005. the same principles, iran was not on the sanctions 2003-2005. after eight years of sanctions pressures, the u.s. accepted the same as the polls. why the deal was done, why the deal was possible? there was only one reason in
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2003 to 2005, the u.s. was not ready to accept the legitimate rights of iran on their in pt for enrichment. u.s. would say the red line is enrichment. iran cannot have one centrifuge. iran should have zero enrichment. that is why you could make the deal. in 2013, the pulmonary deal was signed. the u.s. changed, moderated its position. u.s. said, now iran can have enrichment on the nonproliferation treaty, but limited and for its practical needs. but iran should give all assurances that would not seek nuclear bomb. therefore, really, the reason for the deal was not pressures and sanctions was the u.s. to realize and to respect the nonproliferation treaty
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sanctions. sanctions had two different impacts. one on the nuclear issue. sanctions only cost increase of iranian nuclear program. he for sanctions, iran had a few hundred centrifuges. after sanctions, iran had reached to 22,000 centrifuges. before sanctions, iran had a few kilograms of stockpiles of enriched uranium. after sanctions, about 9000 kilograms. before sanctions, iran was enriching below 5%. after sanctions, iran increased the enrichment to 20%. therefore, congress and israeli policy for sanctions only lead to the increased iranian nuclear capacity. until the point which the u.s. recognized iran has only three
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months to breakout then the u.s. accepted enrichment in iran and decided to have verification transparency, and change the red line from zero enrichment to zero nuclear bomb. but the second i mission of the sanction is on iranian economy. the iranian people. definitely, it heard the iranian economy. sanctions harmed the iranian nation. there is no doubt about it. but if the objective of sanctions was limiting the iranian nuclear program, this was 100% counterproductive. this is a good lesson for the u.s. congress and for israelis. more pressure, more threats iran would become more aggressive. but if you go for mutual respect , negotiating with iran based on mutual respect and based on
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international rules and regulations, you would find a very very cooperating a flexible iran. amy: what about what congress is saying right now, the house speaker john boehner as well as the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell went to israel to meet with netanyahu. they're saying they want to have a say in this. what about these three months? yesterday, john kerry did not stand with the iranian foreign minister in making the announcement. they held separate news conferences. what are the chances this deal will be sealed? >> i believe this is for the united states of america, the administration who resolved its thomistic problem. but for iranians, they are really shocked and surprised and they do not understand how the was congress trust a foreign
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leader of pro-minister of israel, more than its own president, president obama. this is something the iranians really cannot understand. how the congress has more trust to these really prime minister then to the president of the united states of america. however, the framework is agreed. the u.s. has -- the united states of america would be committed to implement it. domestic issues is something americans have to resolve with themselves. it has nothing to do with iranians. the iranians would not care about the domestic situation of the united states of america. juan: ambassador, i want to ask about another aspect of this issue. in recent months, the key leaders in saudi arabia, which obviously considers iran a chief enemy in the region, have raised the possibility of saudi arabia itself would begin to seek
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atomic bomb. and sing it as a counterweight to what they perceive as iran's move in that direction. could you talk about that and is that -- or those just threats on the part of saudi arabia? >> i think the deal is done with iran. saudi arabia is going to have a nuclear program like this deal, that would be fine because this is the right of every member of nonproliferation treaty to have peaceful nuclear technology for civilian purposes. this deal means no nuclear bomb. this deal means the most powerful intrusive inspection during the history of proliferation, the history of nuclear program and the last 60
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70 years. if saudis are ready to accept such a level of transparency, if saudis are ready to have completely open nuclear program and if they are ready to give all objective guarantees that they would never seek nuclear bomb and they would only go for peaceful nuclear civilian technology, that's fine. i think all countries in the middle east can have the same new good technology come to nonproliferation treaty, which already has entitled every member state to have peaceful nuclear technology. but i believe the deal with iran means a redline to nuclear weapon in the middle east and ultimately israel also should be ready to give up its nuclear weapon in order to have nuclear
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weapon-free zone in the middle east. amy: ambassador, i want to ask you about a piece that peter baker, a new york times reporter recently wrote -- "since the 1979 iranian revolution that swept out the washington-supported shah and brought to power an anti-american islamic leadership, the country has been the most sustained destabilizing force in the middle east -- a sponsor of the terrorist groups hezbollah and hamas, a supporter of shiite militias that killed american soldiers in iraq, a patron of syria's government in its bloody civil war, and now a backer of the rebels who pushed out the president of yemen." could you respond to this? >> this is how some americans view iran. but you should know there is the same rating as some iranians about the u.s. they believe the u.s. is the source of instability in the middle east.
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they believe the u.s. has supported all dictators in the last 60 years. the shah of iran was a corrupted dictator supported by the u.s.. ben ali was a corrupted dictator supported by the u.s. they have a lot of evidence is, even today many u.s. allies are corrupted and dictator and there's no human rights, no democracy, but they have full support of the united states of america. they believe the u.s. invaded iraq and made iraq destabilized. they believe the was invaded afghanistan. they believe saddam hussein used chemical weapons against iran,
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killed 100,000 iranians, and the u.s. [indiscernible] to use weapons of mass destruction against iranians. these are mutual grievances, but we need to change the course. mistrust is there. every side has its own story and history. it whether we should remain in the past or think about a better future, a new future, a road to peace, a peace between iranians and americans, i believe we should go for the second version. that is why i wrote the book "how we can make peace between iran and the u.s.." these nuclear talks is the first such successful negotiations
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between iran and the u.s. therefore, this is an excellent president. this is excellent experience for iran and the u.s.. first of all, to continue further negotiation another disputed issues like terrorism. iranians they would say, the united states of america founded taliban, founded and supported al qaeda, they gave all weapons money to opposition of the show al-assad in syria, the terrorists. these are the differences. but we need to discuss the other differences we have on weapons of mass destruction, on terrorism, and other issues. amy: ambassador, we have to wrap -- >> however -- ok. there are a lot of commonalities between iran and the u.s.. peas and stability in iraq fighting isis, security of --
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these are key commonalities between iran and the u.s.. i believe should have a dialogue for iran and the u.s. on the issues of common interest. amy: ambassador seyed hossein mousavian, thank you for being with us. associate research scholar at princeton university's woodrow wilson school of public and international affairs. former diplomat who from 1990 to 1997 served as iran's ambassador to germany. from 1997 to 2005, he was the head of the foreign relations committee of iran's national security council. he served as spokesman for iran in its nuclear negotiations with the european union. he is the author of, "the iranian nuclear crisis: a memoir." and most recently, "iran and the united states: an insider's view on the failed past and the road to peace." he was speaking to us from princeton university. in a moment, we will be joined by george takei on the new laws
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in arkansas and indiana. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: mozart's string quintet in g minor recorded by hausmusik. formed in 1986, they were first modern musical ensemble to perform chamber music on period instruments. this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: after a national outcry both indiana and arkansas have passed fixes to their so-called "religious freedom" laws that threatened to sanction anti-lgbt discrimination. both measures were signed into law thursday by the states's governors. this is republican indiana house speaker brian bosma. >> what was intended as a
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message of inclusion, inclusion of all religious believes, was interpreted as a message of exclusion, especially for the lgbt community. nothing could of been sure are further from the truth, but it is clear the perception had to be addressed. hoosier hospitality had to be restored. amy: the revisions to indiana's religious freedom restoration act provide new protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, tenants and customers, lawmakers. the fixes do not apply to churches or schools. the new arkansas bill is crafted to make the state's religious freedom law more closely mirror a federal law that have been signed by former president bill clinton back in 1993. one critic of the original indiana bell was mayor bart peterson who now is an executive with eli lilly. >> for the first time ever, the words "sexual orientation" and
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"gender identity" appear the indiana statute -- or they will -- after this law is passed in the context of nondiscrimination. juan: critics note the fixes to the anti-lgbt laws will not expand lgbt rights. many republicans who supported the changes said they were concerned about potential economic damage from boycotts and lost jobs due to protests. but advocates welcomed the changes and vowed to continue pushing for equal rights. this is human rights campaign president chad griffin. amy: we will go to that clip in a moment. right now, we are joined from philadelphia by george takei legendary actor and gay rights activist. he is perhaps best known for his role as hikaru sulu on the television series "star trek." last week, he called for a boycott of indiana to condemn its anti-lgbt law saying he wanted to -- "not only send a clear message to indiana, but also to help stop the further erosion of our core civil values in other parts
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of this country." welcome back to democracy now! george takei, it is great to have you with this. your response to the so-called fixes to the arkansas and indiana laws? >> well, it seems to be going in the right direction, and i hope they continue to move in that direction. what needs to be done still is there is no protection for lgbt people, and i think that is the next step will stop i am a buddhist. in buddhism, we embrace the pluralism of our society. on christmas, i sing christmas carols. i decorate christmas trees. i celebrate christmas with my christian friends. i go to seder with my jewish friends. that is the kind of society we
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should have. i particularly admire pope francis, who a from the vatican to watch the feast of the nonbelievers. that is the kind of society i call truly inclusive. there should be no civil law that protects hurting other people, denigrating other people, and ruining the most joyful moment in people's lives. so i hope we come to that point. indiana, certainly, there's no protection for lgbt people right now currently. they can be fired with impunity you. so that is the next step. we look forward to that coming about. juan: george takei, recent price by the extent of the national reaction to these laws in indiana and arkansas and also the swiftness of the republican lawmakers in designing fixes for
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them? >> no, i wasn't. because a year ago, we went through the same thing in arizona. so this, to me, was something like a rerun. arizona attended to do the same thing. -- arizona attempted to do the same thing. because there were such an overwhelming response, not from just the good arizonans, but the corporate communities and republicans as well, so before -- it did pass the legislature but before it became law, the governor of arizona jan brewer, vetoed it. so when major corporation spoke out and even hoosier republican spoke out on that, the ceo of angie's list is a republican, and they spoke out against the so-called religious freedom bill. the former chairman of the
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indiana republican party spoke out. so i was not surprised by that reaction. it is surprising to me that the politicians of the states, both indiana and arkansas, seem to be oblivious of what happened a year ago in arizona. amy: i want to turn to conservative radio host tammy bruce who is openly gay. she appeared on "fox & friends" thursday to argue gay rights activists had bullied a pizza shop in indiana who said it would not cater gay weddings and that the gay rights movement risks turning into fascist bullies. >> if there's anyone in the world who should understand the vulnerability of being a minority of being somebody that maybe others don't understand or relate to, the vulnerability about work and jobs in your own -- able to live your life as you see fit, it is the gay community.
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activism began with act up, a gay group dealing with aids issues in the 1980's. for me to turn around in the 21st century and see this is what we're fighting for so that we could condemn people who are different and with whom we disagree echo >> exactly. >> it is the into the system of what ever civil rights movement was about. amy: that was the conservative radio host tammy bruce. your response, george takei? >> well, the people behind the religious freedom bill were initially saying that no, no, it is not discriminatory, but that pizza shop incident just underscored that fact that it was, that it was being used to hurt other people, to ruin the joyful event of gay lesbian people who have been subjected to the very kind of bullying throughout our lives.
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so i think quite they need to think about is religion should be something that is embracing people. pope francis, are used as an example, he says, who am i to judge? we need to embrace the diversity of our society in the united states. we live in a pluralistic society of many, many states. and for any one faith to try to write their values into civil law is going against the grain of our democracy. we had this strong demarcation point between church and state. and when people try to use their church and write it into civil law, that is going against the very principle of our democracy. juan: george takei, yet the of
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drawn parallels between legalized discrimination against gays in contemporary time to pass discrimination in the 19th and early 20 century of discrimination against asians. could you talk about that? >> yes, all minorities have been subjected to legalized discrimination. asians particularly japanese americans, during the second world war, were put into barbed wire prison camps simply because we looked like the people that bombed pearl harbor. we are americans. we were innocent. and yet without due process, we were incarcerated. we have another longer history of slavery in this country. or inequality for women. and that was taken as normality for the people of that society. but we continued to move
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forward. social chain comes in increments. and what we're living through right now is one step toward improving, but incrementally, on what we need to do to have a more inclusive -- they use the word "inclusive" to protect people who inflict pain on other people. that is noninclusion. we want a loving, sharing inclusion. in that is what our society really should be. pope francis is the idle or the example that i use. amy: why do you think indiana introduced this so-called religious freedom law at this time? >> well, a year ago, there was an attempt made by legislators to add or amend the indiana state constitution and put a ban on marriage equality.
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but then the judiciary, the supreme court, acted on it and saw that mayor to quality was imminent. -- marriage equality was imminent. so the same legislators got behind us so-called religious freedom act. so that is the history behind it. it is very clear to me what this religious freedom veil is. we can see right through that veil. amy: george, you talk about inclusiveness. i want to end by asking about your friend, former castmate on "star trek goes but leonard nimoy. he passed away in february. he played spock while you were the starship enterprise helmsman hikaru sulu. you've said leonard nimoy came to see a screening of your documentary, "to be takei," while he was ill that -- "leonard played an alien, but he was the most human individual i ever met." can you talk about the
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difference he made in this issue of inclusion, what he meant to you? >> leonard was truly an extraordinary person because apart from being brilliantly gifted actor, he was socially conscious. for example, when "star trek" became an animated feature, they had a very limited budget. they hired just leonard, william shatner, jimmy doon, and the major to do the voices for their characters and all other voices. but when leonard found out about that, he said, this show is about diversity. two people that must represent a diversity are -- and george takei sulu.
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and if they can be a part of the show then i am not interested in doing it. he said he was going to walk away from it. that was a very rare act, to walk away from a job. very few actors would do that. leonard did that. he was a good and supportive friend throughout. and we had a diverse cast. he embraced and we embraced him. i considered him a very good friend. he came to all of the stage plays that i did. he came backstage to tell me what he thought. he was a great guy. and he represents the best of an inclusive american society. amy: george takei, thank you for being with us, legendary actor and gay rights activist bicking trust today from philadelphia. when we come back, we're going
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to talk about kenya, the horrific massacre that took place there. 147 people, mainly university students, killed. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: that was the theme from the tv show "star trek." this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we turn now to kenya where officials say 147 people, mostly universtiy students, were killed when al shabab militants stormed a university in garissa, making it the worst attack on kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the u.s. embassy. al shabab militants reportedly went through the university dorms, separating muslims from christians, and killing the christians.
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the kenyan government said at least 79 people were wounded in the assault. the siege lasted about 15 hours before security forces killed four militants. amy: we are joined now by leslie lefkow, deputy director of human rights watch's africa division. she joins us via democracy now! video stream from amsterdam. leslie lefkow, can you tell us what you know? what happened in kenya? >> well, we understand at about 5:30 in the morning, group of attackers stormed the campus at carissa university college. most of the students were either at prayer or they were still sleeping in their beds. they took a number of people hostage in one of the buildings and held onto them held onto the building for most of the day. i the end of the day, last night, the government confirmed at least 147 people were dead
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and the attackers had also been killed. we understand today that that death toll is very likely to rise. we're hearing reports of at least 170 people dead from this horrific attack. juan: leslie lefkow this is the worst of several attacks that have been occurring recently from auch about into kenya. could you talk about the roots of this? >> we've seen in security in this region around garissa. garissa is located in the north of kenya and the northeast province. it is a region of kenya largely populated by ethnic somali kenyans of somali descent. small-scale attacks previously. what we've seen over the past couple of years is a dramatic intensification in the size and scale of the attacks launched by a shabab in kenya.
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these largely date back to 2011 when the kenyan military deployed in somalia and out shabab warned that deployment would have an impact in kenya and the would try to mount attacks. so far, they have mounted a number of very serious attacks. there was the attack on westgate mall, very affluent shopping mall in nairobi in 2013. and there were two attacks about six month ago come also in the northeast region that killed more than 60 people in an attack on a bus and an attack on corey workers -- quarry workers. we're seeing an increase in the number and scale of the attacks and the numbers of civilians killed. i think that is another part of the pattern that needs to be pointed out. these attacks are clearly targeting civilians. this attack yesterday in garissa targeted the university, the
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bulk of the victims seemed to have been students from around kenya. and the al shabab, they state they spare muslims and yet is a certain irony to this. within somalia al shabab is rigidly attacking civilians, all of whom are muslims. amy: leslie lefkow, president obama is scheduled to go to kenya this summer. can you talk about the significance of this and what human rights watch is calling for right now? >> president obama visit in july i think has been long in the making will stop it is an important opportunity. while on the one hand we are seeing clearly that kenya has a security crisis am a the other part of the problem is the way the kenyan government has been addressing the security crisis.
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after many of these attacks, we have seen very abusive operations by the kenyan security forces targeting ethnic somali and muslim committees, rounding up people, reading people sometimes torturing them systematically. and these kinds of abuses are not only a problem simply in human rights terms for the people affected, but there also contributing to kenya security crisis. this links back to president obama's visit because the united states, of course, is a very important partner for kenya on security, and the whole range of issues. president obama's visit, it is a prime opportunity for the u.s. government to be stressing that human rights must be guiding the response to the security crisis. and there is no contradiction between maintaining security and improving security and
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protecting the human rights of kenyan citizens. juan: is it your sense, not just in kenya, but another parts of africa that sectarian violence is increasing? >> i think there are certainly groups that are increasingly trying to widen fissures between ethnic and religious groups. i think we see that in nigeria. we certainly see that in kenya. al shabab is trying to exploit tensions between communities in kenya, and i think the way the government has responded so far is not countering this effort. in some ways al shabab is exploiting these differences. amy: leslie lefkow, we have to leave it there, but i thank you for being with us, deputy director of human rights watch's africa division.
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we will lead to your report on the 14 that looked at killings and disappearances by anti-terror police in kenya. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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